Updated: May 17
Goblin Sharks! Yes that’s right a goblin shark. Whatever you’re imagining it’s worse. Because this is one weird looking shark. With pink skin, a round body, small fins, and a protractible jaw, meaning a jaw that can extend or protrude from the front of the face, it‘s easy to see why it got its name.
The shark has also been called a “living fossil,” because it’s classified as an “Extant” or in layman’s terms, a Lazarus Species. Meaning that they thought it had been extinct years and years ago, but it turns out, surprise! The ocean is huge and they were just hiding in small numbers. Go figure.
We don’t have too much information on this wild looking shark because they’re so rare, in fact they’re so rare we’ve never seen a living female shark of this species in the wild. But what we do know is that they’re not the most functional shark out there. Its skeleton is reduced and poorly calcified the muscle blocks along its sides are weakly developed. It’s small fins and fatter body make it a slow swimming shark and it’s known to have poor eyesight. It can however, unlike other deep sea sharks, change the size of its pupils to utilize whatever eyesight it can.
Due to its poorer eyesight this shark species primarily forages or ambushes its prey. Eating mainly crustaceans and other smaller creatures near the sea floor. Its long snout is able to sense small electric fields produced by prey then shoot out its bizarre jaw and capture its meal. Its teeth are long, finely grooved, and razor sharp; except for the back rows which are flattened for crushing power. When the shark bites it essentially catapults its jaw outwards while at the same time a tongue like appendage on the floor of the creatures mouth drops down which causes the shark to suck in water along with its prey. The lower jaw has a velocity about two times greater than the upper jaw because it not only protrudes forward, but also swings upward to capture the prey making it a pretty powerful bite considering the other weaknesses this shark has.
This “catapult” style of feeding could be an adaptation to compensate for poor swimming ability by allowing the goblin shark to catch elusive, fast prey without having to chase after the prey.
If you want to learn more about this insane looking shark the Australian Museum has a really cool online exhibit for this one of a kind shark check it out below!